Central embouchure overtone flute

Lisu pilu (Lahu lae tu; Akha bau lau ; Kachin htu ren, nda tang)

embouchure Lisu flute

Central embouchure overtone flute. The pilu is made from a long thin tube of bamboo about 75cms long and 1.5 cms in diameter. A square notch is cut one inch off centre and the instrument is side blown.  There are no finger holes but the player uses thumbs or fingers to stop one or both of the two ends of the flute as well as playing it unstopped. The pitch is also changed by overblowing . The tone is rich in harmonics.

embouchure Akha flute

Anthony Baines in “Woodwind Instruments and Their History’ concluded “ Thus with the harmonics, the player has a useful pentatonic scale, b”,c”’#,e”’,f”’#,g”’#,b”’. A typical range for the flutes I have tried is:

Both ends open   GGDG

Left end closed  AAbECGB

Right end closed AAEAEA

Both ends closed  AbEbCFBb

Lisu player, Phrao

Black Lahu player Soppong

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